Ruth Stevens Pens Dementia Tale as a Play and a Novel: Stage Seven

Ruth Stevens, author of Stage Seven

By Ruth Stevens

My mother, Muriel Port Stevens, suffered from Alzheimer’s for the last five years of her life. During that time, I often found myself trading war stories and sharing sympathetic reflections with other people whose family members were similarly afflicted.

While this was occurring, a friend told me the story of her sister-in-law, a divorced woman who fell in love with an older man she met at a memory care facility where they were both tending to family members. I didn’t even know this couple, but I thought the way their romance blossomed was the stuff of drama and conflict.

These two separate elements—my mother’s struggles with dementia and the poignant love story—combined in my head to form the narrative that became Stage Seven. I modeled the character of Dolly after Muriel, a brilliant and tireless community leader and wonderful mom who was sadly reduced to a childlike state after dementia set in. Barbara and Jack, the romantic leads, were largely products of my imagination, though people who know me recognize the author’s list-making obsession and Advanced Worrying Skills in the character of Barbara.

Stage Seven by Ruth StevensI was determined that Stage Seven: A Novel should not be a relentless downer. A big believer in the power of laughter to ease our pain and anxiety, I always incorporate humor in my writing, no matter how serious the topic—while still taking care to respect the subject matter.

As a lifetime lover of theatre, I first wrote Stage Seven as a play, a two-act dramedy performed in a community theatre production in 2018. During the four performances, the audiences reacted in ways I hadn’t anticipated. People laughed and cried, as I’d hoped they would—but some even told me the play changed their lives. After one performance, a woman from the audience told me, “I wasn’t going to come, because I lost my husband to Alzheimer’s recently and I thought it would be too depressing. My best friend had seen it and she said, go, it’s funny. And I’m glad I did. I felt like your play gave me permission to move ahead with my life.”

I received other, similar comments after the production. This feedback gave me confidence that I had created a powerful story that would resonate with a large audience. I also realized that, as a published novel, this story would cast a wider net than a play, while also allowing room to develop the characters and their caregiving issues with more depth.

My greatest wish is that Stage Seven: A Novel will provide an enjoyable reading experience while helping readers navigate the daunting challenges of caring for a family member with dementia, just as the characters in the book had to do. I also wish that my readers, like the woman who spoke to me after the play, will come away from this story believing there might be hope and solace at the end of the difficult journey.

Purchase Stage Seven on Amazon now! 

About the Author

Ruth F. Stevens believes in stories that make you laugh and cry. She says, “I like to write about the topics that worry me the most. Since I worry about a great many things, there is never a shortage of material.”

A resident of Torrance, California, Ruth is a former public relations professional (in New York and Los Angeles) and proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Ruth has been writing professionally for her entire career—including hundreds of articles for magazines, newspapers, and journals—but creative writing is her passion. She took up this endeavor full-time after quitting her day job in 2017. At last count, she’s written two plays and three novels. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, hiking, wine tasting, hip hop, Broadway musicals, movies, leading a book club, and visiting her grandsons in Manhattan. Stage Seven is her first novel.

Connect with Ruth Stevens




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